Rare solar eclipse to appear in UK skies this week – as spectacular ‘ring of fire’ phenomenon occurs

UK

Skygazers will be treated to a partial solar eclipse over the UK this week – as the moon passes between the earth and the sun.

On Thursday morning, it will be possible too see nearly a third of the sun being blocked out by the moon in what is known as an annular eclipse.

These only occur every one or two years, when the sun and moon are exactly in line with the earth but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun.

A 'ring of fire' seen during a solar eclipse in, Taiwan, in June 2020
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A ‘ring of fire’ seen during a solar eclipse in, Taiwan, in June 2020

This causes the sun to appear as a very bright ring, or annulus, in a phenomenon dubbed the “ring of fire”.

However, observers in the UK and Ireland will see a crescent sun instead of a ring, as this will be a partial eclipse.

The ring of fire will be visible from Russia, Greenland and northern Canada.

Even though for the UK, a large part of the solar disc will be covered, experts have warned that looking at the partially eclipsed sun without appropriate protection can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes.

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Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “Never look at the sun directly or use standard sunglasses, it can cause serious harm to your eyes.”

Dr Drabek-Maunder suggests using a simple pinhole projector, solar eclipse viewing glasses – which can be purchased online, or special solar filters – which can fit on telescopes, to observe the eclipse.

A girl holds a home-made protective viewing box outside The Royal Observatory during a partial solar eclipse in Greenwich, south east London March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

She said: “You can make a projector by poking a small hole into a piece of card.

“Hold the card up to the sun so that light shines through the hole and on to a piece of paper behind the card.

“You will be able to see the shape of the sun projected on to the piece of paper and watch its shape change as the Moon passes in front of the sun.”

A boy holds home-made protective glasses outside The Royal Observatory during a partial solar eclipse in Greenwich, south east London March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
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Experts warn against looking directly at the eclipse

She said the phenomenon would begin at 10.08am on 10 June in the UK, with the maximum eclipse occurring at 11.13am, when the moon will cover close to one-third of the sun.

The partial eclipse will end at 12.22pm.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich will be live-streaming the eclipse on its website and YouTube channel.

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